Our journey series: eight of eight

Our journey

Read what happened following Doug's accident. These posts were originally published on Doug's CaringBridge site, https://www.caringbridge.org/visit/dougbichler.

Donor sites and such
Yesterday was a not so good day. We battled with Doug's donor site dressing, which caused intense pain and discomfort. Both of our emotions ran high and everything seemed to hurt or go wrong. Another reminder of the tough road ahead of us. But, here we are today and so far the July 23 has been off to a good start. Doug was able to get a decent amount of sleep. He tried our Tempurpedic bed instead of the couch, as his hip and good arm were becoming stiff from side sleeping on the couch. We went for a walk to the feedlot and down the feedlot road, then fed our two cats in the barn before coming back to the house. He ate a good breakfast and snuck in an episode of Big Brother. We had hoped to travel to town to attend Mass this morning, but Doug is not quite ready. So, we watched our Mass on T.V., and now he is trying to nap. Mornings like these make me grateful for the good times and weary of when the next bad moment will strike. Doug is now one week and two days post skin graft, and my hope is his donor site wound will heal this week. If the area does heal, we would have one less wound to worry about. And, I know Doug will feel stronger once he has full motion and movement of his leg. Tomorrow will be a big day for both of us, as Doug has an appointment with a doctor in Bismarck and I have an ultrasound and an appointment with my doctor. The outcome of the ultrasound will decide if this baby will be able to come naturally, or if induction is necessary. We pray our little one can continue to grow and hold off until August so Dad can be stronger, healthier and ready to stare at his or her little face. But, I should probably pack my hospital bag just in case.

The past few days
Doug and I have been doing well this week. We've been working on things in the house, attending medical appointments, eating our own beef, going for walks with the dogs and enjoying being at home. Yesterday, he ventured out to the pasture with his brother to check cows. To say he enjoyed himself would be an understatement. He's been able to be more active every day, but still becomes tired from small tasks. There are still hurdles with Doug's pain control, but we are hoping things will continue to heal and become more comfortable day by day. My mom has been here the past couple days, and I think the food he's been eating has been fueling some of his recovery; or at least he claims. Imagine caramel rolls, juneberry pie, kuchen, garden produce, fresh baked bread ... the list goes on. Later this week, we have more medical appointments and this will continue to be the norm for the coming months. Between myself, the baby and Doug, we'll be seeing our fair share of the hospital. Doug is going to begin physical therapy today and will be meeting with a physical medicine and rehabilitation doctor in the coming weeks. We will also be having a telemedicine appointment with Doug's doctor from Regions Hospital. This appointment is so the doctor can visually see the progress of Doug's skin donor site as well as his amputation site with the skin graft. We are so grateful this is an option as we will not have to return to Minnesota for a check-up appointment. He will also be meeting with the pain management team in Bismarck this week. So, while the past few days have been full of mostly good moments, we have weeks of moments ahead.

Doug shares
With the help of a friend, Doug shared a bit of his story on a local radio station. If you are interested in listening, the link is: http://kfgo.com/podcasts/ag-news-leader/1694/linton-rancher-shares-his-farm-accident-story/. Talking about the accident is still hard for both of us. I can't help but relive the moment when I heard Doug calling my name. At the time, I was so sleepy I didn't sense the trauma and urgency in his voice. But, now I can. And the memory of the sound of his voice brings on anxiety every time. Not to mention, Doug's personal memories of the accident are engrained with him. But, we both hope his accident can help someone avoid a farm-related accident. Or, maybe his accident can help mend and strengthen relationships; both between him and others. Maybe this will bring someone to the Catholic faith or back to the faith, or maybe bring someone to a faith in general. Maybe the accident will create an attitude of gratitude in someone. Maybe Doug's accident can help save someone else. At times, thoughts such as these don't help ease the pain, stress and anxiety we carry with us. But, at times these thoughts bring comfort and outlook.

This afternoon, Doug and I will be having an appointment with his doctor from Regions Hospital via my laptop. Oh, how I love technology. By doing this, we avoided having to venture back to Minnesota for a check-up appointment. We are excited to speak with him, as we have questions we'd like answered. Doug's donor site is healing well and isn't a pain or discomfort. He has been applying lotion to the site multiple times a day to keep the skin moist. His skin graft appears to be healing, but we aren't experts. At times, we both don't know if what we are seeing is healthy tissue and skin or something to be concerned about. Hopefully by meeting with Dr. Mohr, we can gain some reassurance in Doug's healing. We are also curious about the next steps as far as a dressing goes for the wound area. Doug has physical therapy first thing this morning followed by a trip to Bismarck for baby and me. It'll be a big day all around for the Bichlers, and a hectic way to end out the month of July.

And, the newest member is...
Amelia Clare Bichler was born at 8:39 p.m., August 1, 2017 weighing in at 6 lbs., 3 oz., and measuring 18.75". She has stolen our hearts and is the perfect little baby complete with a full head of dark hair (like her Mom and Dad). Needless to say, she's been the best pain medicine God could provide for Doug. We are all doing well. Thank you for your continued prayers for all three of us. We appreciate them more than words can describe.

I'd post photos, but Doug wouldn't appreciate his skin graft site being exposed to the world. Doug's arm looks amazing. The daily progress is astounding (we've been snapping photos and videos during his dressing changes). While the area is far from being completely healed, the skin appears healthy and on its way to toughening up for a prosthetic. His leg donor site is healed over. And, I find the shape amusing as the patch looks like a plot of land; think two different rectangle/square areas placed together. We could show people where we have crops planted via Doug's leg. He has been going to physical therapy in Linton, which has been great for his back and shoulder muscles. He is working on his posture (a personal win for me), and has been doing mirror therapy at home. The team in Linton built him a mirror box. The box sits on the table and Doug places his right shoulder up to it. Because of the way the mirror is positioned, when he places his left arm on the table, he sees a perfect reflection, making it appear as though he has a healthy, intact right arm. This therapy literally tricks his brain into thinking all is well. By doing his mirror therapy sessions, he is able to relax his phantom arm. And, because he can relax his arm, the pain associated with it dwindles as well. Over time, mirror therapy has been proven to dramatically reduce the instances and intensity of phantom pain. Doug is continuing to take his prescribed medicines, but we are in the process of weaning doses and stretching the time between his pain medicine. This week, he has physical therapy and an appointment in Bismarck with his rehabilitation doctor. We are hoping all goes well. We would rather not travel to Fargo for care (as they have more rehab doctors). We may also be having a telemedicine appointment with Regions this week, but we are waiting to hear. So progress is being made and the progress is good. Let's hope it continues.


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